In an exclusive tete-a-tete with Hello Bollywood, Shweta, daughter of renowned singer Sujatha Mohan, talks about her dreams, aspirations and inspirations. And of course, her concert in Australia
Shweta Mohan, who has lent her voice to many successful Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi film songs, has today, immerged as a popular face in the Indian music scenario. As the daughter of renowned Indian playback singer, Sujatha Mohan, Shweta grew up watching her mother sing and that inspired her to train her voice.
Straddling the worlds of both Indian and Western classical music, Shweta has already bagged several awards for singing including the Filmfare Award and Kerala State Film Award, having sung for some of the biggest composers in the industry from Illayaraja to AR Rahman and Harris Jayaraj to Yuvan Shankar Raja. She opens up to Hello Bollywood…
Did you always know you wanted to be a singer?
Well, my mom has been singing for the 35-40 years, and I think that influenced my decision. Watching her made me passionate about music and then I started training to be one. Now that I am in it, I don’t think there is anything else I can see myself doing.
What has been the turning point in your career?
Turning point, I must say, it was a cultural programme at school. Till that time, I wasn’t really into music. My parents, especially my mom, would always discourage me from getting into music professionally because she was of the opinion that in the future, it wouldn’t be a stable profession. She wanted me to do my MBA. But then when I was in the tenth grade, I started winning prices at inter-school singing competitions. In fact this was when my parents realized that I had a good singing voice. I realized that I should train myself and then singer KS Chitra took me on to my present guru Binni Krishnakumar, and ever since I have been learning under her. She is actually the one who molded my voice and brought out the best in me.
So, apart from mom and guru, who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest idol and inspiration is Dr. KJ Yesudas. He is like family to us. My mom has done more than 3000 stage shows with him. She started her career with him and he’s been like my own uncle. His son Vijay is like my own brother. Apart from the personal relationship, I admire him as a singer. Even at the age of 74, when you go to his house, he is never sitting idle. He reads music books and keeps learning things. He sings like a dream even at this age.
Are there any other singers you like?
Oh yes, a lot of singers like Shankar Mahadevan, Sadhana Sargam, Shreya Ghoshal, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shaan and many more.
Your mom has been a singer all her life. Do you think it was an advantage for you that you belonged to such famous family?
Oh yes. Definitely. Because, how many people would really get the first-hand help I did. Also because I am my mom’s daughter, people notice me much faster. Even today, I am known as Sujatha’s daughter.
Apart from South Indian films, you have also sung in a few Bollywood movies. So, how has that been?
I haven’t sung in as many Bollywood movies as I would have liked to, but I have sung two or three songs for AR Rahman, but that was with a group, so I cannot really call them my songs. I call ‘Yun Hi Re’ from David my song, and I must thank composer Anirudh Ravichandran for it. Singing in Bollywood is a dream.
You have had the opportunity to work with A R Rahman. What was that like?
I have known Rahman since I was a child because he was the one who helped my mother make a comeback in the playback singing industry by giving her the chance to sing for his debut movie Roja. I first got to work with him in the film ‘Bombay’, where I was part of the chorus of children for the song ‘Kuchi Kuchi Rakma’. After this I did a lot of backing vocals, harmony and chorus work for him in a lot of movies. Only after I proved myself did he give me a chance to take the lead in some songs for Kannada, Telugu and Tamil films.
What is your favourite genre of music?
I would say romantic melody because I am most comfortable singing it. I also like doing the semi-classical stuff.
If given a chance to sing a masala Bollywood fast-paced number, would you accept it?
Oh absolutely. I would love it, because it would mean future stage performances. No second thoughts about it and I can perform it wherever I go.
You will soon be performing in Australia. Are you excited?
I had come to Australia two years ago, with Vijay, Chitra and Yesudas uncle and we had a really memorable tour, because we sang at Sydney Opera House. Also when you go for a Yesudas concert, people know what to expect and the beauty of it is that people are there to listen to good and pure music. That’s why I feel blessed to be a part of this tour. They are here to listen to classic melodies and whether it takes five hours or six hours, they will just sit and listen. You don’t get an audience like that very easily.
What projects have you signed on?
In the pipeline, I have five to six Tamil movies coming up. One is for Rahman. And apart from that, there are a few Telugu movies and a couple of Malayalam movies.
Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Magazine in Melbourne)